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This site presents an overview of genealogical research as well as genetic testing that provide links in a family tree. I am a sixth-generation direct descendant of John and Elizabeth Kilby, eighteenth-century settlers of the Colony of Virginia. I grew up on farmlands in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains handed down generation to generation from my forebears. Some sons and daughters of John and Elizabeth remained in Virginia while other sons relocated to the Carolinas and then beyond. Some of my Kilby ancestors of European descent enslaved men, women, and children of African descent, and their living descendants share in this research.


Paternal — KILBY (Kilbey, Kilbee, Kelby), Aylor, Brown, Carpenter, Hawkins, Hite, Hitt, Lillard, Reynolds, Sparks, Strother, Thornhill, Towles, Wallace, Yowell, and others

Maternal — MITCHELL, Boothe, Chapline, Collier, Creech, Fulghen, Haskins, Jones, Kelly, Olinger, Owsley, Plummer, and Sturgill.


  • John Kilby (c.1710-1772) of Culpeper County, Colony of Virginia

    John Kilby and wife Elizabeth settled in Virginia, and by 1734 they had begun their family of six sons and four daughters. In 1747 John obtained a patent for four hundred acres of Northern Neck Proprietary land from Thomas Lord Fairfax. Years after his death in 1772, Elizabeth followed two sons as they migrated to Wilkes County, North Carolina, and another son to Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Two sons remained in Virginia. Subsequent generations would move to Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and other southern and western states. A portion of the John Kilby family tree is found here.

  • African Americans enslaved by John Kilby descendants

    Tax and probate records reveal that John Kilby and some of his descendants and spouses from the early 1770s to 1865 enslaved men, women, and children of African descent, mostly singular or few in numbers. Significantly, church records and probate and other court records reveal names and basic descriptions of enslaved persons. We are fortunate to have been able to identify by name three generations of enslaved persons—the later generation taking Kilby as their surname after emancipation—and their descendants, confirmed through genetic testing and extensive genealogical research. The first six generations of this family are depicted in this tree.

    Family lines of African-heritage Kilbys extend beyond Virginia to cities in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and New York. Stories of extraordinary strength, resilience, determination, and accomplishment enrich this family history. The youngest living descendants can now know about their ancestors going back eight or more generations! Researching and sharing genealogical information with living descendants is a current primary focus.

  • Kilbys of Dorchester County, colony of Maryland and their descendants in Nansemond County, Virginia

    Descendants of Thomas Kilby (c.1715-1774) settled in and became prominent citizens of mid- and late-nineteenth-century Nansemond County, Virginia. Genealogical and genetic research is being conducted to attempt to connect this family branch with John Kilby of Culpeper County.

  • Kilbys of Liberia, West Africa 

    Randal, a manumitted-by-will man enslaved by Joseph Bunch, adopted the surname Kilby upon emigrating to Liberia, West Africa in 1854. John Richardson Kilby of Nansemond County, Virginia was the Bunch estate attorney and associate of Randal for several years after he emigrated. A large number of Kilbys living in Liberia today may have descended from Randal Kilby. This separate branch is being researched to provide the Kilbys of Liberia with evidence of their ancestral roots that may lead back to Virginia.


Some John Kilby descendants have taken DNA tests. Male descendants taking the Y-DNA test and participating in the Kilby Surname FamilyTree DNA Project fall into two primary male haplogroups, R-M269 and I-M253, both with European origins. Those descendants of John Kilby that tested are of high-level haplogroup R-M269. I have completed FTDNA's Big Y-700 test, which places me further out on the haplogroup branch R-Y18962. Autosomal DNA testing among Kilbys and Kilby descendants has added previously undiscovered family links. Testing has also confirmed the biological relationship between European American and African American Kilbys.


“Half the truth is often a great lie.” —Benjamin Franklin

“Writers who commit themselves to only writing hopeful things are committing themselves to the ahistorical and the mythical.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” —Ida B. Wells


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